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10 and 14 year old brothers surrender to police in traffic cone killing of 73-year-old

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Robert Moran and Oona Goodin-Smith

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Two brothers — ages 10 and 14 — have surrendered to police for questioning by homicide detectives as “persons of interest” in a fatal attack on a 73-year-old man last month in North Philadelphia, police said.

No charges have been filed as police continue to investigate the June 24 assault of James Lambert Jr., who was crossing Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 21st Street just before 2:40 a.m. when a group of juveniles assailed him. In a surveillance video, one of the participants can be seen knocking him to the sidewalk with a traffic cone.

Police say seven juveniles were involved.

While Lambert remained on the sidewalk, a girl can be seen in the video picking up the traffic cone and throwing it at Lambert, who then appears to stagger down Cecil B. Moore, followed by the girl, who retrieves the traffic cone and throws it at him again. She is wearing a bright pink long-sleeved sweater, with matching pool slide sandals. White-framed sunglasses are propped on top of her head.

As many as seven youths had gathered by that point. Video shows them talking before leaving the area.

Lambert suffered head injuries and died the next day, police said.,

Watching the video of the attack on 73-year-old Lambert on the news, the woman said she thought it “could have been me.”

The woman, who spoke to The Inquirer on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said she was walking on 21st Street toward the subway on her way to an overnight nursing shift in late May when she spotted a group of young teenage girls on the street.

One of the teens — whom the woman said she recognized from the video of the attack on Lambert — asked her for a dollar. When she did not give them money, the woman said the teens began to swear at her. One threw a brick at her chest, and slammed a metal dolly on her back, leaving deep bruises. Startled, the woman said she threw her cup of hot coffee at the group and ran, phoning her family.

“I wanted to get them away from me,” she said.

The woman said she’s lived in the neighborhood all her life — and is a neighbor of Lambert’s sister — but “has never seen anything like this.”

Now, she said, she’s stopped going out at night, and changed her evening home nursing shifts to daytime hours.

“I had to change my whole life,” she said. “I can’t work at night.”

She said she didn’t contact the police initially about the attack, but called on Friday after hearing about Lambert’s death.

In the Lambert attack, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith urged parents of the juveniles to first contact an attorney and then make arrangements to turn their children in to police.

Lambert’s niece, Tania Stephens, told Fox 29 she remembered her uncle “Simmie” as a family man who “was like a father” to her, and enjoyed spending holidays with his loved ones. Lambert saw his family just hours before the attack, NBC10 reported.

Lambert had walked the path near the Martin Luther King Recreation Center and YMCA for “60, 70 years of his life,” Stephens told Fox 29. “And for his life to be snuffed out like that, it’s just unbelievable.”

“Where were the parents?” Stephens asked in the interview. “I realize people have to work and have to do what they have to do, but there should be some structure.”

The attack occurred 12 days before Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill implementing an earlier curfew for Philadelphia teens for the rest of the summer.

Under the new curfew, which took effect Thursday, kids age 17 and younger must be indoors and off the streets by 10 p.m.; those 13 and younger must be home by 9:30.

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(c)2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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